After two very long years, a bill that will overturn the 2012 Court of Appeals ruling in Tracey v. Solesky, which declared pit bulls as “inherently dangerous,” has passed BOTH chambers of the Maryland legislature and is headed to the governor’s desk.
The disastrous Court ruling also held landlords strictly liable for injuries by their tenants’ dogs, and this immediately created a nightmare situation for dog owners across the state.
While legislators wasted no time in their attempts to overturn the ill-conceived court ruling, it has taken two years to reach this very important compromise.
In addition to removing the language declaring pit bulls dangerous, the new law will make dog owners, not landlords, responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, unless the landlord knew or should have known a dog was dangerous. The law will also protect responsible dog owners by creating a rebuttable presumption that the owners knew or should have known about their dog’s dangerous propensities, regardless of the breed of their dog. Injuries received while a dog is running loose will still incur owners’ strict liability.
The words of Tami Santelli, Maryland State Director for the Humane Society, released in a statement today, sum it all up pretty well:
Passage of this compromise legislation ends this disgraceful era of court sanctioned canine profiling, in which families with pit bull-type dogs were forced to choose between their homes and their beloved pets. Lawmakers today voted against singling out particular breeds and in favor of raising the bar for all dog owners to protect victims of dog bites.
The bill now goes to Governor O’Malley, and everyone involved is optimistic it will be signed without a problem.
Maryland…after two long years, relief is finally on the way!